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‘Science by tweet’ prompts expression of concern, irking authors – Retraction Watch (Adam Marcus | October 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 29, 2019

The leader of an international team of genetics researchers is seething after a journal responded to critical tweets about their paper by issuing an expression of concern.

Really useful debate about who should be the arbiter of scientific debate. Can science be called out through public fora?

The article, “Exome sequencing in multiple sclerosis families identifies 12 candidate genes and nominates biological pathways for the genesis of disease,” was published in PLOS Genetics in early June 2019 by a group led by Carles Vilariño-Güell, of the Department of Medical Genetics at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver.

Less than a week after publication, according to Vilariño-Güell, the journal notified him that:

There are 93 tweets in the conversation about the paper started by Daniel MacArthur. It is overwhelmingly negative towards the journal and paper. In addition to MacArthur (32.9k followers) weighing in, other names and influencers including Jeffrey Ross-Ibarrra (UC Davis, 6.2k followers), Heidi Rehm (Mass General, 4.4k followers), Manuel Rivas (Stanford, 2.2k followers), etc. One positive tweet appears responding to PLOS Genetics’ own coverage of this paper.

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Examination of CIs in health and medical journals from 1976 to 2019: an observational study (Papers: Adrian Gerard Barnett, Jonathan D Wren | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 26, 2019


Previous research has shown clear biases in the distribution of published p values, with an excess below the 0.05 threshold due to a combination of p-hacking and publication bias. We aimed to examine the bias for statistical significance using published confidence intervals.

Design Observational study.

Papers published in Medline since 1976.

Over 968 000 confidence intervals extracted from abstracts and over 350 000 intervals extracted from the full-text.

Outcome measures
Cumulative distributions of lower and upper confidence interval limits for ratio estimates.

We found an excess of statistically significant results with a glut of lower intervals just above one and upper intervals just below 1. These excesses have not improved in recent years. The excesses did not appear in a set of over 100 000 confidence intervals that were not subject to p-hacking or publication bias.

The huge excesses of published confidence intervals that are just below the statistically significant threshold are not statistically plausible. Large improvements in research practice are needed to provide more results that better reflect the truth.

Barnett, A.G., Wren, J.D. (2019)  Examination of CIs in health and medical journals from 1976 to 2019: an observational study. 

(Australia) Skin cancer doctor in hot water after papers retracted – The Age (Liam Mannix and Tom Cowie | November 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 24, 2019

For most, sailing the Mediterranean on a luxury cruise ship is a relaxing escape. But skin cancer expert Professor Anthony Dixon was working. And a storm was about to hit the credibility of his research.

Over the 12-day cruise, the professor spent nine hours teaching doctors and nurses how to recognise skin cancer. A prominent educator, Professor Dixon has trained dozens of health professionals in his methods, many of them on cruise ships.

But two of his journal articles were about to be retracted after complaints from other cancer experts that they contained factual errors. Such retractions are considered rare and necessary to prevent inaccurate information being available to other practitioners.

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23andMe, moving beyond consumer DNA tests, is building a clinical trial recruitment business – STAT (Rebecca Robbins | September 2019)0

Posted by Admin in on November 23, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — Consumer genetics giant 23andMe announced Thursday that it would move deeper into the business of clinical trial recruitment, partnering with a fast-growing startup to help match its customers with nearby study sites based on their diseases, demographics, and DNA.

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This story touches on a tricky problem: The use for recruitment purposes of a service that people would have understood to be private and not for research purposes.

The Silicon Valley company has for months been quietly making inroads into clinical trial recruitment by emailing customers who’ve opted in with recommendations about studies that might be appropriate for them. It has recruited for studies, both interventional and observational, in disease areas including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, eczema, and liver disease, a spokesperson for the company confirmed.

But the new partnership with TrialSpark, which offers a tech-powered alternative to traditional contract research organizations, may help 23andMe address one of the biggest challenges in clinical trial recruitment: geography. The idea is that patients who want to enroll in a clinical trial centered out of, say, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, won’t have to fly to New York and can instead participate by visiting their local doctor’s office.

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